LGBT Latino youth on the importance of the first-ever Creating Change Latino Institute

By Ivan Aguilar, a Maryland-based youth advocate, a volunteer for the Latino LGBT History Project, and DC Latino Pride planning committee member 

My name is Ivan Aguilar. I am 21 years old and I live in Maryland. As someone who is a youth and who works with youth, I’m tremendously excited to attend Creating Change and the first-ever Latino Institute.

The author

The author, Mr. Empodérate 2012-13

Not only will it be a learning experience that will benefit me greatly, it will definitely have a major impact on the youth I work with. As Mr. Empodérate 2012-13 (Mr. Empower Yourself), I work as an HIV prevention educator for gay and transgender youth at the Clínica del Pueblo Youth Center in Washington, D.C. Many of us, including myself, are from communities where accessing quality education, jobs and health services is an incredible obstacle. And although I, like so many other LGBT Latinos, have enormous amounts of love and support from our families and friends, many still face rejection because of our sexual orientation or gender identity.

This is why the Latino Institute is important to me. There are many advocates like myself around the country — in urban and rural areas — doing all we can with limited resources to create a better life for LGBT Latinos/as and our families, and this Institute will help take our work to the next level.

I want to be a better advocate and a better mentor to the LGBT youth I work with, and my hope is that they pay it forward so that we can create a larger community of advocates working together to make a difference. After the Latino Institute, I will surely be better equipped to do that than ever before.

For more information on the Latino Institute at Creating Change, please visit the fully bilingual Institute website.